Ian McKellen was the winner of the BBC Audio Drama Award 2015 for Best Actor in an Audio Drama (for Eugenie Grandet). Sir Ian McKellen reads The Valley of Fear, the last of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's four Sherlock Holmes vels. The mystery begins with a coded warning of imminent danger, drawing the illustrious Sherlock Holmes and the faithful Dr. Watson to a secluded English country home. A trail of bewildering clues leads to sleuthing in the finest Holmesian tradition and the gripping backstory of a cult that terrorized a valley in the American West. It is the first broadcast as Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh into a prosperous Irish family. He trained as a doctor, gaining his degree from Edinburgh University in 1881. He worked as a surgeon on a whaling boat and also as a medical officer on a steamer travelling between Liverpool and West Africa. He then settled in Portsmouth on the English south coast and divided his time between medicine and writing. Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in 'A Study of Scarlet', published in 'Beeton's Christmas Annual' in 1887. Its success encouraged Conan Doyle to write more stories involving Holmes but, in 1893, Conan Doyle killed off Holmes, hoping to concentrate on more serious writing. A public outcry later made him resurrect Holmes. In addition, Conan Doyle wrote a number of other novels, including 'The Lost World' and various non-fictional works. These included a pamphlet justifying Britain's involvement in the Boer War, for which he was knighted and histories of the Boer War and World War One, in which his son, brother and two of his nephews were killed. Conan Doyle also twice ran unsuccessfully for parliament. In later life he became very interested in spiritualism. Conan Doyle died of a heart attack on 7 July 1930.